Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wilderness Medicine

I finished my wilderness EMT recertification in Flagstaff a few days ago and I thoroughly enjoyed it. What makes this training so much more valuable than the urban EMT training I have taken is in the backcountry, you don't have access to 911 and all the stuff it comes with. You need to be "Machyver" and improvise.

What really sets this training above others is the use of scenarios to test skills. The instructors used lots of theatrical props and fake blood to simulate a mass casualty incident. In this case, a load of tourists shot down in a hot air baloon.

A.hand shredded in the fall.

A mid shaft femur break. This came with a pump that squirted fake blood several feet.

An evisceration using condoms and tape.

I was the gunshot vistim and had both entry and exit wounds glued to my torso and then was covered in fake blood.

It's a very realistic way to test skills and I hope I never have to deal with it in reality


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Serious Snow

This winter has sure felt epic in the TC. Lots of snow and ice that seemed to stick around forever.

But parts of the west have had it far worse. Here in Flagstaff, they have had over 140 inches with one storm dumping over 44 inches alone.

The big difference is that, sitting at 7000 feet, the sun's strength is amazing so much has melted.

Reportedly, places in the San Francisco peaks got in excess of 400 inches. And that will be there awhile.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Hostels - where have they gone?

Since I am taking a class here the next few days,I am currently staying at the Grand Canyon International Hostel in downtown Flagstaff. $40/night with breakfast for a private room and shared bath. Laundry and wifi on site.

This morning, I ate breakfast with folks from Germany, the UK, Netherlands and South Africa who shared stories of their travels. One woman is attempting to see as much of the US as possible in 6 weeks by staying no longer than 2 nights in any one location, and travelling by plane, train and auto.

It's hard to know why hostelling has all but dissapeared here in the States. I'm sure there are a few around but they seem well hidden. My breakfast guests were complaining about the lack of cheap accomodations available in a country with so much to see.

Flagstaff is quite a fun town with a large university, many book and outdoor shops and cyclists everywhere. Route 66 runs a block from where I sit and you can both ski and trek the red rocks in an hour depending on the direction you head.

I found this spot rather intriguing and may try it.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Take that Joey

If you read my last post, I introduced you to my four wheeling friend, Joey. Now, Joey was correct in sharing his wisdom about the local conditions in Show Low. But, sometimes, you just have to say "what the f%$k" and go for it. As Jim Thill would say -- "What's the worst that can happen?"

I located a jeep road on the map and decided that it would lead me to remote camping opportunities.

I ignored this.

And immediately ran into this.

And this.

I'm pretty sure the Honda engineers would be hitting the sake a little heavier if they saw these pictures.

To quote Mr. Thill again -- "keep your standards low and your spirits high, and you'll never be dissapointed. Sage advice.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tales From The Road --Long and Overdue

I landed in Flagstaff, Arizona this morning and have good/great internet connectivity. This is rather long but contains mostly photos.

The lovely missus flew in Friday evening and we headed out Saturday morning to explore Arizona, south of Tucson. First stop was back at Kitt Peak, which was open this time. We walked around gawking at the views and poking around the various telescopes that are there.

As I mentioned before, this is the largest collection on earth.

The largest solar telescope. The sun's light is shot 75 feet into the mountain.

Lots of telescopes of various sizes.

From there, we headed south into Coronado National Forest to explore some of the dirt roads that run parallel to the Mexican border. Despite very warm days, there is still snow above 5000 feet.

The roads are designated for 4 wheel drive vehicles but the Element has AWD and upgraded off road tires so we though we'd try our luck.

Lots of small creek crossings.

We poked around some of the side roads and found a great camp site along a creek.

The road in.

The missus relaxing in camp.

I managed to get out for a short ride up Bear Canyon that involved more than one creek crossing and boulder hopping. That night, it was just us and the coyotes.

The next morning, we continued east, following the road through various canyons and across one beautiful grass land valley.

The dirt road ended at the top of the pass at Coronado National Monument which is a very short distance from the border,

We looked for a good camping spot all afternoon but the only side roads led south almost directly to the border. The only other vehicles we saw all afternoon were Border Patrol trucks so the area is a hotbed for human and drug smuggling. One of their vehicles was pulling a large sled to smooth out the road surface so they could see foot and tire prints later. At Coronado Pass, they had a radar unit operating.

At this point, we opted for safety and headed to Bisbee, a really fun town in the mountains. The bike trip I just finished over nighted here so we stayed at the Jonquil Motel, in business since 1936.

After a great breakfast and poking around a few antique shops, we headed back to Tucson and stopped by the Saguaro National Monument, hoping the flowers were blooming. They were in a few spots but still have a few days to go.

I dropped the missus off at the airport Tuesday morning and headed north east towards the White Mountain town of Show Low, hoping to get in some mountain biking. My first stop was the Chamber of Commerce where a very nice lady told me that all the trails were open and the Mogollon Rim road was perfectly fine to drive. Hmm. My second stop was at the local bike shop where the owner informed me that local trails were either buried under multiple feet of snow or so muddy, they's suck the tires off your rims. Strike one.

My next stop was at the local 4X4 store to see whether the Mogollon Rim Road was indeed drivable. The man behind the counter was named Joey and here is roughly how the exchange went.

Me -- "Joey, is it possible to drive the Mogollon Rim road from here to Payson"?

Joey, laughing. -- "Come with me". We walk through the shop and out into the rear lot. No kidding, if I was a few inches shorter, I could walk under most of the trucks back there.

Joey -- "See that truck over there"?, pointing to the largest one in the lot. "That's mine and I had to have it towed out of that road a few days ago. Would have cost me $500 but I own the wrecker company here too."

Me -- "Well, that answers that. Thanks for the advice".

Joey -- "What kind of truck are you driving?"

At this point, I am trying to avoid the laughter that will ensue after he sees the Element. After he does see it and I explain about the camper on top, Joey places his rather large hand on my shoulder, looks me in the eye and says " if you tried to drive that thing up there, I'd have to come pull you out. Chances are, the whole drive train would get left behind but you could sure use that camper thing as a small guest room in your yard back in Minneapolis." Nuff said!!

I headed towards Payson, hoping to find a camping spot in the National Forest. This is what I ran into.

I continued into Payson and found a cheap motel run by a Japanese guy who spoke little English. I am pretty sure there was a Twilight Zone episode with the same theme.

The next day, I headed towards Sedona, passing through Snake River Canyon.

Arriving in Sedona, I discovered it was peak tourist season and the place was jammed. I stopped by a bike shop, got a trail map, and headed into Coconino National Forest, both to camp and ride. The recommended route was great with just enough technical stuff to make it interesting.

The trails are well marked, and the scenery spectacular.

I did fall and landed in a nice soft cactus. 14 thorns in me; 0 in the tubes. Trail side surgery was in order but fortunately, I am a trained professional.

After the ride I headed into the forest, looking for a remote area for the night. Tons of roads to choose from.

Not a bad view.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Moving to Vermont

Not me. But my daughter Lauren found out today she matched for her #1 pick of an OB residency at the University of Vermont. 600 applied, 60 were interviewed and 3 chosen. She'll be there 4 years, maybe 5 or longer, who knows?

Burlington is an awesome town in an awesome area for biking and hiking. Not to mention it's the home of the Magic Hat Brewery. Looking forward to exploring there a bit.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Tales From The Road

Ok, not really tales. The second ACA ride I am working is on day 2 already. Weather has definitely improved and it is much warmer than last week. Wind is a bit of an issue today and tomorrow, however.

We did have a rider airlifted to the hospital yesterday after he suffered a seizure and then went into cardiac arrest. Last report was he was stabilized in ICU.

And the moped died. The moped was purchased by ACA in an attempt to lower our carbon our carbon footprint as we mark the routes ahead of the riders. Unfortunately, 20+ miles of sustained use didn't agree with her much and she gave up the ghost.

Other than that, the group is a lot of fun and as mechanic, I have not needed to do any major repairs to date. Of interest to some readers is the presence of a new Salsa Vaya, ridden by an HC customer. I helped her assemble it and it is one nice ride. Think of it as a Fargo lite. I will try and post a picture shortly.

This has been one of the wettest winters on record here and the snow pack is down to probably 4000 feet or less.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Digress

This post isn't about my current journey and there are no photos. It also isn't about politics as promised but more of a social observation.

As background, I'm in Tucson with an afternoon to kill before having dinner with a friend. I headed over to the University of Arizona to visit the Center for Contemporary Photography. Among other collections, it includes most of the work of Ansel Adams, a personal favorite. It was worth the visit. Afterwards, I visited the art museum and wandered around campus ending up in the Student Union where I now sit.

I went to a small college in the 70's so comparing my expetience to attending a major university like UA today would be unfair. But when I read about how many of today's college students have no focus or ambition, and I look at the facilities and opportunities available today, I am somewhat bewildered. My age certainly has something to do with it.

At the UA student center, they probably have 20 restaurants representing every ethnic food imaginable, in addition to the offering of every fast food restaurant. The bookstore sells PC and Mac equipment that rivals a Best Buy. The book selection rivals any big box store and there is a Kaplan University office on site for test prep. Their athletic center has virtually ever piece of equipment imaginable. I can only imagine that their classroom and lab facilities are all state of the art.

Is it all so overwhelming that "analysis paralysis" sets in? If you can't find something to inspire you here, follow the advice of Judge Smelz in Caddyshack; "the world can always use more ditch diggers".


SoCal To Tucson

I arrived in Tucson last night after several great days of exploring and dry camping. I have decent internet access here at the RV Park the next ACA ride starts from so I am doing a bit of a picture dump. The weather here has been pretty windy and cool and the natives are claiming its the coldest and wettest in 25 years. The desert is carpeted in green and it is only a matter of days until the flowers explode.

One of the riders enjoying the route east of San Diego.

The route east of San Diego goes through some very beautiful country. In a few months, this will be hot, dry and brown.

I was able to ride sweep one day south of Borrego Springs. It was extremely windy but still great to ride.

Views from camp in Borrego Springs.

The route back towards San Diego took us over Mt. Laguna where there is still snow on the ground. Locals like to drive up and either load snow into their trunks or have impromptu snow ball fights by the side of the road.

Once the ride ended, I spent the weekend in Palm Springs and then headed back towards Borrego Springs to explore the southern end of Anza Borrego State Park.

These sculptures are set up in the desert around Borrego Springs.

Views from the southern end of the park.

From there, I headed east on I-8 towards Yuma. From Yuma, I drove north to Kofa National Wildlife Refuge to explore the park and camp. The refuge adjoins the Yuma Proving Ground and these signs were everywhere. Camping is a bit tenuous.

Scenes from the wilderness.

A pretty nice back door.

From the park, I headed back through Yuma towards Tucson and opted for more back roads. About 50 miles west of Tucson is Kitt Peak Observatory, the largest collection of telescopes in one place on Earth. The road up climbs to almost 7000 feet in 12 miles offering spectacular views of the desert floor. The temperature and the wind at the top were literally breathtaking and as I arrived at closing, will go back after the missus arrives in a week or so.

The ride starts Saturday so internet access will be sporadic for the next week. I will take and post more pictures and text then. Until then, I leave you with this. It applies to some of my readers and you know who you are.